Let the sunshine in!
Blue skies, sun shining, cool nights and warm days-perfection is currently available on the Tablelands! With all this sunshine it’s the ideal time to top up the old vitamin D levels. Vitamin D, aka the ‘Sunshine vitamin’, is incredibly important to us. It’s synthesised on the skin by sunlight but there are only a few foods that contain the sunshine vitamin and not in great enough quantities to ignore the action of sunlight. The sunshine vitamin is necessary for the absorption of calcium so it’s indispensable to our bones. Rickets is not as common as it once was, but it is a prolonged vitamin D deficiency that causes it. Vitamin D deficiency has been named and shamed as contributing to a variety of conditions including osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, diabetes, weight gain, asthma and low immunity…that’s quite a list!
I’m sure that’s brought up plenty of questions so here come some answers! You’re more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency if you are vegan (more on that in a minute), have limited exposure to sun, impaired digestive function, have darker skin or the frail and/or elderly. That’s the short list but you get the idea.
As mentioned, there are some foods that contain vitamin D. These are butter, milk, egg yolks, cod liver oil and sprouted seeds. This is why vegans are at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency. But vegans don’t need to miss out! Plant based sources include mushrooms and tofu. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D. There are also supplements. And of course, sunlight! Sunlight is the most important source of vitamin D.
And the big question is always how to get enough sunlight without risking skin cancer. I consulted the Cancer Council for this, and it turns out that we only need a few minutes of sunlight a day up here on the FNQ tablelands. Opt for times outside peak UV levels which are usually before 10am and after 3pm. Take your shirt off! The skin is a massive organ and the more you expose to sunlight the more vitamin D is made.
So, grab your morning cuppa, show some skin and bask in the morning sun to warm up and strengthen your bones the passive, lizard-inspired way!
Immune Support Basics
The toilet paper and pasta are disappearing off the shelves and we find ourselves dealing with viral panic and hysteria on top of the threat of the virus ‘who must not be named’. We’re in a great position up here with open spaces, fresh air and sunshine! Obviously, hygiene and social distancing are paramount in preventing the spread of any infection. But what about our own immune systems? Keep them in tip top condition and we have another defence.
I’m not pretending to have the answers or the solution. I can’t guarantee you won’t get sick or you won’t have complications but give yourself a flying chance! Below is good, solid, general immune support advice. Be aware and ready but don’t panic! We’ve got this!
Without further adieu…
Vitamin D- the sunshine vitamin is the first cab off the rank! It is essential for a healthy, well-functioning immune system. I am always surprised at the number of people in FNQ who test with low vitamin D. It’s a reflection of the times with screens providing our light more frequently than sunshine. Also, the ever-present fear of melanoma keeps us covered and sunscreened. Let’s compromise! Early morning sunshine is gold. Get out there before or after the peak times for just a few minutes a day. The Cancer Council says a few minutes a day is plenty. You need to get as naked as you can without upsetting the neighbours so the maximum amount of skin is exposed.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that actually starts as another substance but is converted to vitamin D when sunlight hits the skin. The sunlight needs to be direct. You can’t bathe in the sunlight through the window. The window bends the rays and they don’t do the job. You need direct sunlight to convert to vitamin D.
Prebiotics and probiotics- regular readers will groan! Sorry but these are absolutely imperative to keep immunity strong. Prebiotics are fibre that feed our good bacteria and with about 80% of our immunity in our gut…lets feed it well!
Onions, garlic, asparagus and artichokes provide great pre-biotics but oat bran, green banana starch and apples are awesome too. Think all kinds of fibre and you’ll be helping the wee beasties in your gut.
A brilliant source of both pre and pro-biotics are fermented foods like sauerkraut. Make your own or check out the range at Foodworks. Sauerkraut is a favourite as it’s also high in vitamin C which I will mention later. Fermented garlic is beautiful too as well as garlic being a wonderful anti-bacterial and ant-viral!
Antioxidants- we talk about this a lot but does anyone actually know why they’re important? They are like a mop up crew for damaged (oxidised) cells. A damaged cell roams free to attach to healthy cells but antioxidants step in to take them away. Incredibly important and really easy to get.
‘Eat a rainbow’ has become a cliched catch phrase but that’s where your antioxidants are. Get as many colours on your plate as you can. You want a great range of these little babies!
Also in things like green tea which is surprisingly good for anxiety. More about that in a minute.
Chicken Bone broth- if you eat meat then bone broth is a brilliant way to support your immune system. Not only does it soothe the gut, but it also provides vital nutrients for cells. And there are studies to support the ‘Jewish Penicillin’ nickname it’s been given over the years (for the record I’m not in any way suggesting you use this instead of antibiotics if you need them).
If making it is too hard then check out the Foodworks organic powders. Either are easy to use in soups and stews or as a drink.
Sleep- Who would like more sleep? This is not a want- it’s a need. The body needs sleep and plenty of it. We need down time to process and heal. Our immune system needs a chance to function and replenish.
That’s not happening if we’re tossing and turning or scanning Facebook or trying to put another load of washing on. Prioritise your sleep and the other stuff becomes a lot easier. Basic sleep hygiene includes regular bedtimes and wake ups, no screens an hour before bed, a cup of chamomile or other sleepy-time tea in that hour, low lights before bed and quiet music or silence to allow the mind to calm down. That’s the basics. If you have chronic insomnia, please seek help!
Stress less- alright, easier said than done I realise! But give it a go. Stress inhibits our immune system. We need it at full ball right now not supressed by stress.
Breathing is a great start. Breathe in through your nose for the count of 4, hold for 7 and breathe out through lips making a loose cats bum for the count of 8. Repeat 10 times. Your cells will grateful for the oxygen! When we’re stressed and anxious our breathing is shallow. This is the easiest way I know to instantly drop stress levels if only temporarily. Awesome to get you off to sleep as well!
Once you’ve got the breathing exercise down pat try meditation. Smiling Minds is a wonderful app that’s free and has loads of different meditations for all ages and applications. Give it a go!
Vitamin C-if you want an extra boost for your immune system then grab some vitamin C. This is available everywhere! It’s a really powerful antioxidant. Plain sodium ascorbate is fine. Others have blends of different kinds to increase the likelihood of absorption. Both are fine!
Finally, follow all the handwashing advice, keep a distance of 1.5m between yourselves if possible, try not to touch your face, use the hand sanitiser, cough into elbows and stay home and rest if you are sick. That last one is important, so I’ll repeat it -stay home and rest if you are sick!
So folks, congratulations for getting this far! Get some sunshine, eat well, sleep well, stress less and use appropriate hygiene practices. Much love as we navigate these strange times!
The information given here is general in nature and not intended as a diagnosis nor should it be taken as such. It is in no way intended to take the place of advice from your chosen healthcare professional or specialist. If symptoms persist, or you have further concerns, please see your chosen health care provider.
And just like that it’s winter in the tropics with the arrival being marked by the sound of….coughing! This year in clinic I’m seeing more and more coughs that simply won’t give up. Keeping us awake, our family awake and making the neighbour’s dog bark in the middle of the night.
There’s plenty that can done but I really want to highlight a fruit we have in plentiful supply up here that is not only tasty but has the ability to help with our coughs. The pineapple, prickly and crowned with spikes, is the tastiest way I know to beat a cough!
Here’s how! Pineapple contains bromelain. In fact, it’s one of the richest sources of bromelain. Bromelain is a protein digesting enzyme that research shows to be an anti-inflammatory. This makes it perfect for those persistent coughs as well as sinus and hay-fever. Because it also has immune modulating properties and some anti-bacterial properties it is incredibly useful to support the immune system in its time of need. It even has the added benefit of increasing the absorption of anti-biotics should you need them.
Some of you will have noticed that I said anti inflammatory and straight away be thinking ‘what else is it good for?’. And indeed, you should as studies show it is also useful in cases of arthritis. I’m starting to feel like the Danos direct guy because truly…wait…there’s more! Post surgery ask for some pineapple because bromelian has been shown to reduce the number of days you experience post-surgical pain and inflammation. And bromelain can be useful for bout so diarrhoea as well.
Finally, pineapple contains an awesome amount of vitamin C making it a super anti-oxidant to mop up any free radicals in the body looking for cells to cause trouble with. It’s also the clean up crew!
The only question left is…when can you get some?!
Good ol' Gut Health
This topic is peppered thorough everything I write and say so I figured the time had come to get some things down in writing! Gut health. It's a term that is incredible popular right now. It's a buzz word and I know why!
What's the first thing you think of with gut health? The first thing? Is it poo? I think of poo! I"m sure i"m not the only one (please don't let me be the only one). Well here's the interesting thing. It's only partly about poo. We can tell heaps by noting our bowel habits, timing, frequency, consistency, difficulty, smell, colour texture...but who honestly looks? I ask ALL my clients and consistently get "Great! Fine! All good! No problem!" but they are complaining of symptoms of a poor immune system, skin conditions, allergies, and a low mood or difficulty sleeping. Mix and match as you wish. Each and every one of those symptoms can be impacted by gut health.
Here's couple of quick facts:
but if we get too much histamine it produces all sorts of allergic issues.
Totally easy to do! No excuses to give your gut some TLC to boost your immune system, mood mood and digestion!
Hello, hello! Welcome to my blog. I'm Sarah the creator of Simply Healing.
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